Temer’s Lawyers Seek Suspension of Brazil’s Attorney General

Brazilian President Michel Temer, struggling to avoid being removed from office, August 8/Photo: EFE
Temer’s Lawyers Seek Suspension of Brazil’s Attorney General

The Attorney General Rodrigo Janot is expected to bring more charges against the Brazilian president.

Lawyers for the Brazilian president, Michel Temer, have asked the Supreme Court to suspend the Attorney General, Rodrigo Janot, who filed corruption charges against the head of state.

Last week the Lower House of Brazil’s Congress voted by 263 to 227 to block those charges. But Janot has promised to bring two more sets of charges against the president, for criminal association and obstruction of justice, before his term as attorney general ends in mid September.

In his written request to the Supreme Court, Temer’s lawyer, Antonio Claudio Mariz, wrote, “It is obvious that the Attorney General, in cases involving the president, has far exceeded the legal and constitutional limits of his post.” He argued that the Janot’s motives are “personal”, saying, “We are witnessing acts of obsessive persecution.”

Rodrigo Janot brought the first set of corruption charges against President Temer in June, based on plea bargains by seven executives of JBS, the world’s largest meat packing company. The owner of JBS made a secret audio recording of the president apparently approving the payment of bribes. A former close aide of the president’s was also filmed receiving a suitcase full of money.

The charges of criminal association against Temer, which Janot is expected to file shortly, relate to an earlier phase of Brazil’s sprawling corruption scandal know as Lava Jato or Car Wash. In this case, Temer is accused of acting with fellow members of his PMDB party as a “criminal organization” to embezzle funds from the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, and a state bank, the Caixa Economica.

If the Attorney General does present any new charges against the president, these will again have to be discussed and approved by the Lower House of Congress before the Supreme Court can open a trial. If that does happen, Temer would have to step down as president for up to 180 days, until a verdict is reached.

The request to relieve Janot of his responsibilities is being seen as an attempt by the Brazilian president to prevent that process from being repeated. Some commentators have said Temer is less likely to have the same level of support in Congress if a second or third set of charges are debated on the floor.

Temer has been struggling to avoid becoming the second Brazilian president to be removed from office in little more than a year. Last August, his predecessor, Dilma Rouseff was impeached after being accused of mishandling the public budget. Rousseff and her supporters said the accusations were false and called the move a coup against Brazil’s democracy.


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